The United States has taken another step toward restoring full relations with Serbia and Montenegro following years of strain during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic over the former Yugoslavia.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has certified that Serbia and Montenegro has met congressional terms for the resumption of normal trade relations after a decade of penalties stemming from Balkans warfare.

Normal trade status was revoked in 1992 in response to support by the Milosevic regime for ethnic cleansing and other human rights abuses in Bosnia by Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb forces. But State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said things have been "fundamentally transformed" since the fall of Mr. Milosevic three years ago. "Serbia and Montenegro has adopted a policy of cooperation and partnership with its neighbors and the international community, as well as beginning to implement tough measures necessary for economic reform after a decade of sanctions; therefore, restoring normal trade relations status underscores our support for these reforms and will help encourage economic growth," he said.

The action gives Serbia and Montenegro the same tariff status as other major U.S. trading partners.